There is arguably no cuter thing on earth than a kitten… but there is more to choosing a kitten than their “cute” quotient. Your new furry family member should match your lifestyle and have a temperament that suits your circumstances. So if you find it impossible to judge a fluff-ball objectively, consider these ABCs of choosing the purr-fect kitten for you.
The kitten’s attitude, or temperament, matters. The chances are a stand-offish and an aggressive kitten will grow into an antisocial and feisty adult cat. A kitten’s socialization period is between two to seven weeks of age, when they learn self-confidence and tolerance. A kitten not handled by lots of people during this time will struggle to adapt in later life. This is why feral kittens rarely grow into good pets–because their lack of exposure to early handling means their wariness of people is set for life.
So what do you look for in a well-socialized kitten?
• A kitten raised in a family environment and exposed to a general hubbub of life
• A kitten exposed to other pets and animals
• A kitten handled by all sorts of people on a regular basis
• A kitten with a friendly mother (her character influences her offspring)
The fact that most cats are a similar weight and size belies a big difference in their personalities. A Persian cat is a very different character to a Bengal, and whereas the former makes an excellent lap cat, a Bengal is more likely to get up to mischief than want to cuddle.So before choosing a kitten on looks alone, have a think about how that kitten needs to fit into your family. For example, do you have children? If so, does the kitten need to be “bombproof” if tugged around? Or are you looking for a companion, a cuddly cat to cozy up to at night?
Purebred cats often come with a personality “type” that is common to the breed. Do your homework to find out about your chosen cat’s characteristics. For instance, American Shorthairs make delightful, gregarious family pets, whereas a Siamese can be a bit aloof and sparky at times. If you want a lap warmer for whom no amount of loving attention is too much, then a Persian is purrfect. Or for an outrageous character that has more in common with a dog than a cat, consider a Bengal. And for all round love, playfulness, and steady character you can’t go wrong with a Burmese.
How much time and attention do you have to look after your cat? If you are getting a cat as a low-maintenance pet because you work long hours, then avoid breeds that need lots of mental stimulation. Some breeds such as the Sphynx or Bengal love to be on the go, and if you are out all day they are liable to make their own amusement and wreck the house.
Similarly, certain coats need daily grooming and brushing to keep them knot free. Weigh up how much time you can realistically spend playing or grooming your cat. Be honest with yourself, because now is the time to be realistic and choose a short-hair over a long-haired cat. It’s easy to assume cats are lazy and just want to sleep all day, but this can belie their need for mental stimulation. If the kitten is to be indoors only, then find out how energetic the breed is and if you can supply enough play and games to keep them content.
Give careful thought to where you source the kitten from, be that rescue center, private household, or breeder. Whichever you choose, make sure the kitten looks healthy, is not sneezing, and doesn’t have sticky eyes or nose.
And finally, each source has their advantages and disadvantages.
•You get to see the mother cat and assess her character
•Kittens often are not homed until 12 weeks, which is way past their socialization period and can make it difficult for them to settle in
•Be wary of breeders who keep kittens in outdoor runs – they will be poorly socialized
•Giving a much-needed home to a homeless animal
•Most rescues health check their kittens, vaccinate, and even neuter them
•Many rescues now have excellent socialization programs
•Great socialization in a family environment
•May not be health checked and come with fleas or parasites
As a final note, it’s important to consider the long-term needs of a cat. Like humans, animals can develop illnesses that can cost thousands of dollars to treat. Anyone who’s about to add a pet to their family should consider taking out Pet Insurance for their new kitten. Pet Insurance helps with the financial burden should your pet get sick and need veterinary attention. For a free no obligation quote for your new kitten, click here.